Looker Blog : Data Matters

The Rise of the Multi-Cloud Data Platform

Joel McKelvey, Director of Product Marketing at Looker

Jul 13, 2019

Cloud infrastructure is now mainstream, with more than 80% of all enterprise workloads expected to be cloud-based in 2020. But it’s not just cloud that’s the new norm: businesses are now using more than one cloud provider, often deploying several solutions at once. Businesses are rapidly embracing multi-cloud for their business intelligence systems.

In this dynamic, evolving world it’s vital that data teams are able to choose the data platforms and deployment methods that work best without lock-in and with the flexibility to pivot and change approaches as necessary.

Multi-cloud refers to the use of multiple cloud providers to supply infrastructure, applications, and key business functions. Multi-cloud goes beyond “hybrid cloud” deployments to include private infrastructure, IaaS, SaaS, and other new approaches. According to Gartner1, “most organizations have already adopted multiple cloud computing providers for different applications and use cases.”

Benefits of Multi-Cloud for Organizations

Organizations and the data teams that support them are increasingly choosing multi-cloud for BI for the following reasons:

The Benefit Why This Matters
Access to capabilities Not every provider has the same features and who’s winning the feature race changes frequently.
Avoiding vendor lock-in Leverage the strengths of more than one vendor. Avoid costly and time-consuming migrations.
Cost mitigation Multi-cloud keeps vendors competitive and pricing low.
Private cloud needs Some organizations have business requirements for private cloud. In these cases, a multi-cloud approach improves flexibility and allows for hybrid cloud where necessary.

Historically, business intelligence tools have been built as single-vendor architectures, with data store and analytics tightly linked. As a result, changing an organization’s business intelligence tools or databases resulted in costly migrations, reworking of business logic, and months of effort.

The modern Looker Data Platform is different. Looker’s in-database architecture supports a wide range of databases and SQL dialects. With Looker as a multi-cloud data platform, you can deliver data where and when it’s needed, without being locked into a single interface and with the ability to go far beyond simple reports or dashboards. And Looker hosting is designed to meet the unique needs of your business, in a way that’s best for you.

“It’s really helpful to have an analytics platform that’s SOC2 compliant, meets GDPR standards, has all of the privacy we need, and that we can deploy into a closed system or on VPN networks—on-prem or in the cloud.”
—Kollective

Looker’s Database Agnostic Approach

Looker’s innovative in-database architecture leverages the power of your database investment to run queries. Looker speaks to your database via Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) and communicates in a SQL dialect your database understands. Because every database is different, and SQL dialects vary, Looker’s multi-cloud platform has been integrated to support more than 50 distinct versions of SQL and we are regularly adding new dialects as technology evolves. This means if your database speaks SQL, Looker probably supports it, and if it can be reached via JDBC Looker can communicate with it, easily. With Looker you’re never locked into the choice of a database you don’t want.

Looker simplifies database migrations, too. If your organization is modernizing your data infrastructure, retiring old systems, or simply adding new database technology, Looker’s database agnostic approach makes adapting your analytics platform easy. When you connect to a new database, Looker is a cloud data platform that will automatically change the SQL dialect to what’s spoken by the new system. With only minor changes, your existing data models and business logic can be reutilized in your new database.

With Looker, you can connect to more than one database or data store at once, too. Looker supports multiple JDBC connections to the databases of your choice. Using Looker’s ability to merge query results, you can produce insights from data spread across multiple data environments.

Hosting How You Like It

Looker hosts and manages Looker deployments for the vast majority of our customers. The Looker Cloud, our virtual private cloud (VPC) environment, is secure, scalable, and provides excellent system availability to Looker users.

As a Looker customer, you can choose the underlying cloud provider in which your Looker instance is hosted. Looker instances today can be hosted in our VPC on AWS (Amazon) or GCP (Google). Customers can even self-host on private infrastructure if necessary. In the near term, Looker will expand Looker Cloud hosting choices to additional providers.

By providing a choice in hosting providers, Looker helps you leverage the cloud provider you prefer, and address complex issues such as data sovereignty (you can have us host in the region you prefer).

Deliver Data Where It’s Needed

Too often data tools lock users into a single way of viewing and using data. Older report-and-dashboard analytics approaches have limited the value organizations can extract from data.

Looker is an open system that lets you deliver data where it’s needed, to people and systems throughout your multi-cloud environment. From right within your Looker instance you can take immediate action on data and connect users to the insights they need, directly in their workflows. But unlike traditional, limited BI tools, Looker is a fundamentally different BI solution with a powerful API that allows you to automate data delivery on a cloud data platform — using the API you can extract data directly into Amazon S3 buckets, email .csv files, or use text messaging to send alerts to users.

“For organizations looking at multi-cloud and hybrid cloud management challenges, continue to consider Looker as a solution to provide consistent analytics across data environments.”
—Hyoun Park, CEO and Principal Analyst at Amalgam Insights

Learn More About Our Multi-Cloud Data Platform

A live demonstration of the Looker Data Platform is a great way to learn more about the power of the modern data architecture, see how Looker works, and discuss your approach to multi-cloud with one of our experts. Scheduling a demo is easy — try your data with Looker now.

Attending the annual JOIN data conference is another great way to learn more. At JOIN you can learn more about Looker’s cloud partners, including AWS, GCP, and Snowflake, and hear from data specialists using Looker in their own cloud and multi-cloud deployments. It’s a great way to learn tips and tricks of navigating the new multi-cloud world.


1 Gartner Technology Insight for Multicloud Computing, Lydia Leong, 16 August 2018

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